DemTools 2.0 - DKAN

Visualization and Storytelling for Open Data
DKAN logo

Managing huge open data sets can be a huge challenge. DKAN, build by nuCivic, is an open source web application for storing, cataloguing, publishing, and visualizing data that makes it a lot easier, and we’re happy to be distributing it as one of our DemTools. Governments, civil society organizations, policymakers, and journalists will find it a straightforward way to publish open data and then generate compelling visualizations to share with the public.

With analytic tools at your disposal, policymakers and citizens alike can better understand complex data and make informed decisions more quickly and easily. DKAN is capable of producing a variety of types of visualizations, including scatter plots, bar graphs, pie charts, and more, so data can be represented most effectively for interpretation and presentation. These accessible, downloadable data sets makes transparency for civic institutions much easier.

Once the user learns how to operate DKAN, it can be used to archive and manage existing datasets and render new charts and graphs based on basic spreadsheets uploaded into the system. Updates and changes show up dynamically dynamically as new data flows in. Updating the information is very expedient; all that’s needed is a quick upload of your most recent data and your visualizations are ready to go.

NDI has made good use of DKAN in a number of projects to date. While open data is designed to be shared with the public, the powerful visualization capabilities of the system can be very useful for internal analysis. In Nigeria’s big elections last spring, NDI used DKAN to automatically generate sophisticated maps and graphs that helped political experts from within the partner organization better understand what was taking place across the country.

Open data platforms like DKAN have been successful in sharing information from censuses, elections, health monitoring, and economic analyses, which means DKAN can be an engine for turning raw data into real democratic change. DKAN is perfect for rendering data visualizations with geography or displaying data over time, allowing users to grasp trends and see the stories behind the data instantaneously. The tool is also very flexible, with a robust standards-based API (application programming interface) compatible with a lot of major open data platforms, from the World Bank and US Government to a wide array of developing countries like Kenya.

DKAN can be a lot easier to use than traditional GIS-based mapping software, particularly once country shapefiles are uploaded. As users need basic web content management skills and the imagination and visual eye for building effective data-driven stories. With the right spreadsheet to upload you can be creating dynamic and compelling graphs within minutes.

Big applause to NuCivic for creating such an amazing tool. It’s been great working with them - and in parallel with the White House - to enable some important new features such as color-gradient maps and prettier, more flexible visualizations. Join our livestream as we unveil DemTools 2.0 on December 9 at the Carnegie Library!